As the Arizona Wildcats commence the 2016-17 season, only one player finds themselves on the 50-man preseason Naismith Watchlist.
If you had to bet on this about a month ago, you probably would have put your money on Allonzo Trier being that guy. But he’s not on there after missing the team’s two preseason games.
Finnish forward Lauri Markkanen is the lone Arizona player. Five others from the Pac-12 (Ivan Rabb, Chris Boucher, Dillon Brooks, Lonzo Ball, and Markelle Fultz) join Markkanen. He’s also one of 11 freshmen.
The Naismith Award is given to the nation’s top college basketball player at the end of the season. The last Arizona player to win a National Player of the Year award was Jason Gardner in 2002-03.
Markkanen has averaged 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in 30.5 minutes of action in the team’s two preseason games. He was 3-of-6 from beyond the three-point line, while the rest of the team was just 1-of-19. Also of note, Markkanen was a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the Chico State game.
He and the rest of the team start the regular season Friday when they play the Michigan State Spartans in the Armed Forces Classic. MSU freshman Miles Bridges was also named to the Watchlist. That game is scheduled to tip-off at 5 PM MT.